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Kudu pointed out that we lose most of the Cubs. I was wondering why that is.



I have heard a couple of my parents say that the wolf and bear years are nearly identical.....I agree.


Webelos meeting can be like school, I have seen them run like that....... the boys are bored out of their minds. My meetings are very hands on.....we have been doing craftsman and handyman. I had the local medic squad come in and do readyman.....it was outstanding fake blood and all.



70% is terrible.



We need to remember that we need to offer a program the boys and parents actually want......Maybe they don't want family scouting any more.......







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Sitting here talking to our SM. Yes I am hanging out with scout friends on New Years eve.


He pointed out that scouting, Does not fit most of the current family values including the religious component. Most of the parents get involved in tigers simply because a flyer comes home with johnny, Most have no idea what scouting is. Once they are in and see some of the discussions about religion, drugs, sex they don't want to bother.



It is easier to cheer for a sports player as to actually having a heartfelt conversation with your son about important subjects.

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As a CM I saw kids get bored in Web 2. I'd tell them just hang on until all the fun starts in Boy Scouts but many left anyway.

When I was a Web way back in the late 60's our pack had a Web DL who was different from the Den Mother we had during Wolf and Bear ranks. After Bear all boys went to the Web den with this new leader who was into the outdoors stuff. We kinda entered a pre-Boy Scout program. Today the Tiger DL ends up being the Wolf, Bear, Web 1 and Web 2 DL even if he/she has no knowledge, experience or desire to be involved in the outdoor Boy Scout type activities.


The other thing I've seen is entire dens leave a pack and either quit or go to another unit. In my experience this is usually a sign of some infighting among the parents and / or leaders that is not addressed by the CM and CC.

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Our troop does a monthly "Webelos Workshop," inviting Webelos from the area to come to a troop meeting and work on a few requirements from a Webelos activity badge. The problem: the vast majority of activity badge requirements are classroom-type "Tell" requirements, not active, hands-on fun stuff. Take a look at the Fitness activity badge requirements, for example. It is no wonder Cub Scouts and Webelos get bored (particularly when dens meet in [shudder] school classrooms).


Beyond that, BSA bends over backwards to offer "graduating" Webelos Scouts opportunities to NOT continue. When is the "transition"? In the middle of the school year, and right before spring sports begin. Who has to do the work of finding, visiting, and joining Boy Scout troops? Why, the Scouts, their parents, and their Den Leader. Who has the most influence on whether Webelos Scouts continue on? The Den Leader -- who is often burned out from 4 1/2 years of Cubbing. Who teaches Webelos about Boy Scouting for the Arrow of Light requirements? The Den Leader, who may have no clue about what Boy Scouting is or how it works. And of course, any transition is preceded by a big ceremony ushering the boys and their families OUT of the only Scouting they know. It is nuts.

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I can go with Webelos 2 being boring. The boys really wanted to BE Boy Scouts but the program wasn't quite up to it...neither are some W2 den leaders if they've been conditioned by years of earlier den ages.

I also agree that a small number of families leave due to disagreement with BSA policies on membership, but I think the boys mostly get bored and lured away by other options. I think Henry Ford (or was it Rockefeller?) who said that "Competition is Hell."

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To me the key to a succesful Webelos program is CAMPING. If you try to make Webelos more Cub Scouts, you will lose them.


In our district, Webelos are invited to the Klondike Derby and Camporee. The is a Webelos overnight camp run by a Troop.


And I'd encourage Webelos den leaders to talk to several packs about finding troop overnights that would be suitable for the Webelos den to go along on.


I also like the idea of Scout Troops inviting Webelos dens over to have Boy Scouts work with Webelos on advancement requirements.


Basically anything to get the Webelos into the Boy Scout outing experience.


If I had my druthers the Webelos would be partnering with Scout troops just about every week.



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Being a Webelos DL have to agree to the part of camping and visiting troops. I try to have boys meet as many troops I can simply because not every time Johnny will make a meeting. I like boys to see lots of troops so they get to see something that 1 of them is doing or have done like camps, etc...


I personally can camp 3 weeks a month with different troops and just us, but don't as most can hardly pay for 1 trip.

So I try to visit local troops often ,to change it up and put BS in their vision.

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After the new year, I have a phone number of someone I found out who is in our district and has been a Webloes leader for 20+ years!!! I take it this Pack uses him similar to how eagle732 remembers the Webloes Den leader back in his youth.. The Pack Leader has nothing but praise for him.. I can't see all the den leaders for the last 20 years, giving up their leadership roles to him when their boys started Webloes if this guy was not excellent at this position.


Ok this here is a gold mine for me.. If I can get this guy to agree to do some training, where would you use him for the greatest bang..? He would obviously be great on a Specifics training for the Webloes break out.. But I was thinking of possibly seeing if our Cub Scout Round table organizer could utilize him at a Round table discussion, and publicize him as if he was the newest Rock star sensation in hopes of getting those who rarely come to RT to come in for this discussion.


Kind-of putting the cart before the horse, as he hasn't agreed to anything yet, but I would like to have ideas to suggest to him as to how he could be invaluable in setting A or setting B to help many of our Packs in the district with offering the Webloes program in a fun way, rather then boring.. Also in improving the Webloes to Boy Scout transition..


I don't want to waste his time having him doing countless trainings with small attendance.. At the same time, he might be an excellent Webeloes leader and a lousy trainer..

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Well the discussion is half right, it is true we loose a lot of families in the cubs, but the content of the program is not the problem. At least from the boys point of view.


The main number one Cub program problem is adult leader burnout. Think about it, the Cub program is roughly FIVE years long. I've written about this for a long and the discussions can be found in detail in the archives. But it basically comes down to that the average adult starts burnout after two years and is pretty much spent after three. THat means a burned out Bear leader is still looking at roughly two more years.


Add on top of that 90% of Den leaders are female. So put your self in the place of a female Bear leader who is looking at a the next two years of outdoor camping, cooking, and scout skills. That is two years out in the hot and cold, bus and snakes and trying to teach skills only their brothers did when they were kids. There just isnt a lot of enthusiasm there folks. But, Ive also worked with a lot of male Bear leaders too and they are just as burned out even if they look forward to the outdoor part of the program.


The results is familiar to most of us seasoned pack leaders, begging and pleading for the adults to either stay and finish with their scouts, or find a new den leader to take over. Neither choice is ideal because 9 times out of 10 the leader you get isn't excited about running a fun den program. The results are a bunch of bored boys who cant wait to get our of Scouts.


So, we can bash and hammer the contents of present program all we want, but until we shorten the length of the Cub years and make the program a little easier for adults to manage, we will keep losing families by the herds.


I know there are Webelos leaders who provide good programs and it is tempting to ask them what they do different, but I personally think the present Webelos program is good and if the den was run by a motivated adult (fresh), they would be very successful. So what I am saying that an good programs requires enthusiastic adults, especially the Webelos. The BSA Cub program today is more complicated and longer than it ever has been. And it seems they keep piling on more every year.




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Let me chime in with some observations from this neck of the woods on these keys to keeping Webelos, and transitioning them to Troops, and echo several of the points raised:


-- "hands on" stuff in Den Meetings: get out of the classroom and classroom mentality (or if you're in a classroom, get in the science lab and do fun stuff, safely of course), get out and about, get dirty (like under the car hood), do fun nutty stuff (not silly craftsman stuff, but cool stuff like marshmallow shooters). Of course, that goes for earlier years too.


-- camping, hiking, outdoors: we have a "Webelos Winter Camp" with the Troop from our school that is the most popular campout from either unit and really solidifies relations (especially since so many Webelos parents attend and get to know the Troop leaders and see both the madness and the methods), plus we've had (in some years) "Webelos First Nights" on Pack Campout weekend (where we encourage just the Webelos to set up camp on Friday, and allow the rest to come on Saturday, setting up the Webelos to be the leaders). We don't turn away younger experienced campers from Friday night, but we don't want inexperienced campers to arrive Friday and fail (better to come Saturday when there is guaranteed help getting set up and succeeding).


-- yeah, you can't make Webelos be "Wolf, Laps 3 and 4": each year needs to be kicked up a notch. We've found that by the Webelos years more parents grow up and "get it" that they need to really help out in their areas of expertise, so we get more willing volunteers to come help with cool stuff that they do in job or hobby. Of course, we preach that to younger years too, but somehow in those years (more often) the parents don't step up and the den leaders don't make the parents step up (as getting experts to come in and do stuff they know and love is a better way to grab and retain younger kids too, plus keep leaders from burnout).


-- rotate leadership: this is actually my "third R" added to the familiar mantra of "recruit and retain". BSA focus is to recruit, then retain, which puts the death grip on the leader, forcing them to (as the song goes): "won't you try a little bit harder, couldn't you try just a little bit more". Sadly, that retention grip is a death grip, because at some point it just releases, and when that leader is lost, the program falls apart. So recruit, rotate and retain, because that way Leader A can be a resource to help support the next leader, and perhaps come "out of the bullpen" once in while to help out, or perhaps return for a last go after a year or two breather. Shared leadership shouldn't end in Tiger.


-- listen to the kids and what they want to do. Yeah, you do want to keep them on track, so you won't be as loose as when you let new Boy Scouts determine their own pace and path to First Class and beyond, but if you get their ideas about what they want to do, and let them see that you're listening and letting them help guide the Den, they'll have more fun and feel they "own" the program. This is a downer for some parents/leaders who want their little ones to get every Webelos Activity Badge, but then I've never heard of an employer or college admissions office saying "hey, let's take this guy: he was a Webelos Super Achiever!!". So, yeah, sometimes we just blew off the meeting activity and played ultimate (even if they already had the belt loop and pin and Sportsman activity badge).


-- getting help from the Troop has been a big plus: the Boy Scouts relate better to 4th and 5th graders than younger ones, and if you cultivate the relationship, you'll get Den Chiefs, or just visiting experts on stuff like camping and fire building. And why Boy Scout Troops don't activity cultivate Webelos dens is beyond me: nearly every Troop wants to keep a flow of new members, so that today's Tenderfeet can be SPLs in the future and not see the Troop wither away.


-- also, summer camps for Webelos: best event ever for our Pack (kudos to the Bert Adams staff and program here in Atlanta), and gets them fired up for more. I've heard some say "if they do it as Webelos, they won't be as interested in being Boy Scouts because they'll have 'been there/done that'", but I haven't seen that yet, and there is enough change (different camp, different activities, different level of freedom) that there's always more to do (like high adventure).


But I have seen in our District that a lot of Cub Packs see their Webelos evaporate, while Troops bemoan their fate as they limp by with only 10 or so scouts. Something's gotta give here: as part of that, we're trying to kick up the Boy Scout involvement at our District Pinewood Derby event (which has become very successful and well attended), so that the Boy Scouts take a leadership role, and some of them put on "scout skill" type sideshows to help recruit and "hook" cubs (and parents), plus some of us want to formalize Pack and Troop camping relationships, so that we'll have a parallel cub event to an event where all of the Boy Scout Troops camp together, where the packs camp adjacent to the Troops and participate in a Council cub event, and return to see what the Troops have been doing and participate as observers with their Troops in evening activities like campfire, giving more Troops more contact with Cubs, and vice versa. And in the process, some of the stronger Troops can work with and mentor some of the fledgling Troops, leading to greater overall success in each.


My $0.02.


Bert Bender

Pack and District Trainer

South Fulton District, Atlanta Area Council

The Wheel is Turning

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Barry is right, of course, that it all starts with the den leaders -- you can't have a good Cub Scout or Webelos program without an enthusiastic den leader. You won't have boys staying in Cub Scouts or Webelos without an enthusiastic den leader. You won't have boys transition into Boy Scouting without the encouragement of an enthusiastic den leader.


We also know how limited the numbers of enthusiastic den leaders are. There aren't all that many to begin with, and as Barry discusses, we lose a lot through burn out. Clearly this is an issue that needs to be addressed.


I would suggest, however, that it is also program-related, in this sense: If we have a program that requires enthusiastic den leaders to be successful, and we only have two-thirds or less of the enthusiastic den leaders we need for the program to be successful, perhaps we need to make the program more attractive to and less demanding upon adults so that it is easier to recruit adult leaders and reduce burn-out.


Dan K.

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So, you feel that a program that is set up specifically for unenthusiastic, volunteers, will work better than one with enthusiastic volunteers?


How will that work exactly?


BSA already has it's dens meeting only twice a month, with scripted meeting plans that cover everything, including what to say to the Scouts. How much less demanding do you want it to get?


Will den leaders sit in a corner reading a book while the Scouts work on assignments sheets?


If the volunteers are so unenthusiastic, will they even bother showing up?


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No, no, no. The point is to make it easier for more adult leaders to be enthusiastic, and to continue to be enthusiastic for a longer period of time -- not to use unenthusiastic leaders. And certainly not to give adult leaders the job of simply reading to the Scouts from a book.


In simplest terms, we need to make Cub Scouting more fun for adult leaders. KISMIF applies to adult participants too.


Dan K.

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>>>>>When I was a Web way back in the late 60's our pack had a Web DL who was different from the Den Mother we had during Wolf and Bear ranks. After Bear all boys went to the Web den with this new leader who was into the outdoors stuff. We kinda entered a pre-Boy Scout program.

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